CHESTER STUBBS

Craig Miles Miller, Author CHESTER STUBBS Craig Miles Mi $30 (288p) ISBN 978-0-939767-36-6
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Miller's first novel is a Florida panhandle picaresque following the adventures of a regular piece of work named Chester Stubbs, an ex-navy heavyweight boxing champ. Chester narrates his close encounters with trouble and various bottles of George Dickle whiskey with self-deprecating wit and a lot of shaky grammar. A year after he is abandoned by his wife, Marleen—coming home one night, she finds him on the garage roof having sex with a check-out girl from the local grocery store—Chester is slovenly, drunk and ornery. His best friend, a black ex-boxer named Crow, finds him a job as a warehouseman, but Chester loses it when he is hospitalized for a broken rib acquired in a fight. He is rather astonished that two of his co-workers, Vietnamese refugees "Wayne" and "Duck," come to visit him. He is further astonished by the friendship that springs up between him and his neighbor, Cecilia Guffins, a feisty old woman who is Chester's polar opposite. But Cecilia sees that Chester has a good soul. Chester rouses himself to get another job, this time as bartender and unofficial bouncer at a Pensacola Beach bar. The bar is patronized by ex-navy acquaintance Fob Langtree, who encourages Chester's relapse into drinking. At the same time, Chester is dealing with Wayne's rebellious daughter, Tam, for whom he feels both responsible and guiltily lustful. Miller's northern Florida is the country cousin of Carl Hiaasen's South Florida, a place where whiskey is more important than cocaine, Bob Wills more likely to come out of the juke box than rap and gospel roots still show through the beachfront hedonism. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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